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Sunday, October 30, 2011

Review: Slayers by C.J. Hill

Title: Slayers
Author: C.J. Hill
Genre: Paranormal Young Adult
Release Date: 09/27/11
Reviewed by: Sara
But the Book:
buy the book from The Book Depository, free delivery
Dragons exist. They’re ferocious. And they’re smart: Before they were killed off by slayer-knights, they rendered a select group of eggs dormant, so their offspring would survive. Only a handful of people know about this, let alone believe it –- these “Slayers” are descended from the original knights, and are now a diverse group of teens that includes Tori, a smart but spoiled senator’s daughter who didn’t sign up to save the world.

The dragon eggs have fallen into the wrong hands. The Slayers must work together to stop the eggs from hatching. They will fight; they will fall in love. But will they survive?

Plot: 3 Stars
I really wanted to love this novel. The premise was fantastic. There aren't nearly enough urban-fantasy-esqe novels that include dragons. But I found the lack of details a bit disappointing. The reader get the basics as to how the slayers came to be and what the different abilities are, but many of the hows and whys were left unanswered. A few too many details are just taken for granted by the characters. Even while Tori is still learning about her destiny and questioning things, there are some details and history that I wanted her to question, but she did not. Those details aside, this novel was still very interesting. The different powers the slayers possessed and the training they went through were interesting. My favorite parts were the prologue and the last chapter. The prologue gives a glimpse of how evil the dragons can be and leaves you wanting to know more while Tori is finding her way. And the last chapter drops a bit of a bomb. It's not quite a cliffhanger, but it did leave me wanting to know what happens next.

Pace: 2.5 Stars
This novel moved a bit slow for my taste. Life at camp moved at a pretty slow pace while the slayers practiced and showed Tori what was going on. There were entire chapters dedicated to smaller, more trivial events that could've been wrapped up much quicker, like when Tori runs off to get her hair fixed after getting the majority of her ponytail burnt off. There were quite a few times in which the smaller details of every day life were blown up into much bigger scenes than they needed to be. It also threw me off a little when the point of view of the novel changed. The majority of the book was from Tori's perspective, but every now and then there would be a chapter all in italics that was a different point of view. It was normal enough the first couple times, when the point of view only changed to Jesse. But it seemed a little forced when the point of view jumped to a couple other characters.

Characters: 3.5 Stars
Some of the characters in this novel were definitely developed more than others. I really enjoyed the more developed characters, like Tori and Jesse. I wanted to like the less developed characters, but I really didn't get to learn that much about them. Many of the slayers tended to stay in the background, only coming into the spotlight when their powers were needed. Tori was a very interesting main character. She straddled the line in regards to being a bit spoiled. The author did a good job of making sure the reader could still relate to her and not think of her as a spoiled brat. I really enjoyed that she was vulnerable as she began to practice with the slayers. She didn't learn how to use her powers and fight overnight, which made her feel a bit more real.

Cover: 3 Stars
The dark green of this cover is my favorite part. The color really fits a novel about dragons. The yellow color of the title pops against the dark green and continues the dragon feel. But the font itself chosen for the title is a bit too masculine considering about half of the slayers are female, and the novel is mostly from Tori's point of view. The dragon egg used as the focus of the cover fits the novel, but doesn't really draw the eye. It's a little hard to tell what the item is or to distinguish details at a quick glance. I would've rather the cover included a real dragon and maybe a couple characters. This cover is just a bit too generic and doesn't give off enough of a dragon vibe to grab your attention.

Overall: 3 Stars

Disclosure: I received a copy of this novel for review from Authors on the Web.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

In My Mailbox (106)

Thanks to Kristi at The Story Siren for hosting In My Mailbox every week.

This past Wednesday was my birthday, so this IMM is a bit bigger than usual. And it's not even as big as it could be, because some books that I ordered aren't here yet. I finally got a Kindle! I have been really hesitant to buy myself one because I've looked at the displays and they make my eyes water a little when the page turns, but I still wanted one. Between the two giftcards I received, I spent $85 on books (both print and Kindle) in less than an hour. I was also very surprised when I got the package from HarperCollins with my giveaway win this week. The giveaway had been just for a copy of Den of Thieves, but the publicist threw in a copy of book two that just released.

Darker Still by Leanne Renee Hieber [Buy now]
Flesh and Blood by Kristen Painter [Buy now]

Free Read:
A Dark Kiss of Rapture by Sylvia Day [Buy now]

Den of Thieves by David Chandler [Buy now]
A Thief in the Night by David Chandler [Buy now]
Thanks to HarperCollins and Bastard Books!

From my mom: The new Kindle + charger

From my brother: $25 Amazon Giftcard
Bound by Night by Amanda Ashley [Buy now]
Goddess with a Blade by Lauren Dane [Buy now]
Dead Girls are Easy by Terri Garey [Buy now]
The Business of Death by Trent Jamieson [Buy now]
Miss Bramble and the Leviathan by Kristen Painter [Buy now]
Wilder's Mate by Moira Rogers [Buy now]
Incarnate by A.C. Ruttan [Buy now]

From my dad: $60 B&N Giftcard
I've already ordered six YA hardcover novels that I've been eagerly anticipating, and hopefully they'll arrive sometime next week. My dad also got me a pretty cool Green Fleur de Lis cover for my Kindle, but the shipping was delayed a bit so it didn't arrive until today. I'm hoping to be able to pick it up tomorrow.

Review: Dead Mann Walking by Stefan Petrucha

Title: Dead Mann Walking
Author: Stefan Petrucha
Series: Hessius Mann #1
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Release Date: 10/04/11
Reviewed by: Sara
But the Book:
buy the book from The Book Depository, free delivery
After Hessius Mann was convicted of his wife's murder, suppressed evidence came to light and the verdict was overturned -- too bad he was already executed. But thanks to the miracles of modern science Hessius was brought back to life. Sort of.

Now that he's joined the ranks of Fort Hammer's pulse-challenged population, Hessius attempts to make a "living" as a private investigator. But when a missing persons case leads to a few zombies cut to pieces, Hessius starts thinking that someone's giving him the run-around -- and it's not like he's in any condition to make a quick getaway...

Plot: 4 Stars
I loved the premise to this novel. I definitely enjoy higher functioning zombies as compared to the ones that just run around craving brains. There was a lot of details about the hows and the whys of the zombies that I really enjoyed. It felt as if these zombies were very thought out, and the author definitely made them his own. I loved all of the details about how the zombies reacted to different elements and the precautions they had to take, even when they were a bit gory. There was also the aspect of the zombies going feral, or losing their higher functions that was always at the back of their minds. Besides the awesome zombies, the plot also had a number of twists and turns that I wasn't expecting that led to a very adventurous ride.

Pace: 3 Stars
Although the great take on zombies and a couple quick plot twists pulled me right into this novel, there were some bumps along the way. About three second times in the middle of the novel, it seemed to slow down. There were some scenes between the action in which Hessius spent a bit too much time thinking things through or sinking a little close to feral territory, which brought the pace of the novel down. In these instances, it left me wondering where the novel was going and if I should put it down for a little bit, but then something unexpected would draw me right back in. And once the story reached the showdown near the end, not only was I surprised by some of the events, I also could no longer put the novel down.

Characters: 3.5 Stars
Hessius was a very interesting character and zombie. Although the transition from dead to zombie causes memory loss, he never let it get him down too much. Instead, he bought a digital recorder to make sure he remembered important information. It was very interesting to see how he had adjusted to his new life, and to see hints of the detective he used to be come through. Other than Hessius, the rest of the characters played pretty small parts. I would've like for some of these characters to have slightly larger supporting roles, and I hope we get to see more of them in future books.

Cover: 3.5 Stars
The color palette of this cover really screams zombies to me. The brownish color mixed with the texture that's overlayed over the image gives the cover a bit of a grungy feel that fits a zombie book. The yellow eye on the cover model really stands out and catches your attention, although I don't remember the zombies specifically having yellow eyes. I did like how the title matched the eye color. It made the title fit in with the rest of the image instead of stand out. The red band across the bottom was a great way to bring attention to the series name without taking away too much attention from the rest of the cover. The one part of the cover I wasn't that big of a fan of was how the cover model's face wrapped around to the back cover. Although I could tell it was another image of the same face, the break in the image caused by the spine cut the image in a weird way.

Overall: 3.5 Stars

Disclosure: I received a copy of this novel for review from Ace/Roc.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Review: Bloodstone by Nancy Holzner

Title: Bloodstone
Author: Nancy Holzner
Series: Victory Vaughn #3
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Release Date: 09/27/11
Reviewed by: Sara
But the Book:
buy the book from The Book Depository, free delivery
They call it Deadtown: the city's quarantined section for its inhuman and undead residents. Most humans stay far from its borders -- but Victory Vaughn, Boston's only professional demon slayer, isn't exactly human...

Boston's diverse South End is known for its architecture and great restaurants, not its body count. So when mutilated human corpses begin turning up in the area, the entire city takes notice. The killer -- dubbed the South End Reaper -- uses a curved blade for his grisly work. And even though there's no real evidence pointing to a paranormal culprit, the deaths are straining the already-tense relations between Boston's human and inhuman residents.

As the bodies pile up, Vicky, her formidable aunt, Mab, and her werewolf boyfriend, Kane investigate, only to find that the creature behind the carnage is after something much more than blood...

Plot: 4.5 Stars
I love that each book in this series starts out with a regular demon extermination job for Vicky. It gives us a look into her normal life, between the life-threatening moments, without boring us with their smaller and less mysterious complications. It's also a great way for the author to introduce readers to the different kinds of demons in a fun way. The Reaper put Boston on edge, allowing those in charge that do not sympathize with the paranormals to put Deadtown on lockdown. This posed a pretty big problem for Vicky as she tried to stop Reaper from finishing the ritual, but she found a very interesting way to sneak out. This was another fantastic addition to one of my favorite Urban Fantasy series. I can't wait for book four.

Pace: 5 Stars
I could not put this novel down. After totally and completely loving Deadtown, I found Hellforged to be a bit slower in pacing, so I was so excited that this novel's pace was more consistent with the first book. For a good portion of the novel, Vicky was one step behind the South End Reaper and she tried her best to catch up so that she could stop him. It didn't leave much time for her to slow down, which led to less down time between the craziness. There were even a few plotlines from book two that hadn't been tied up. They could've easily distracted Vicky or just slowed the plot's progression down, but instead they wove together with this book's plot perfectly.

Characters: 4.5 Stars
Vicky is one of my favorite kick-ass Urban Fantasy heroines. This novel forced her to be a bit more vulnerable than previous novels, and it was very interesting to see how she dealt with these circumstances. I wish we could've seen more of her shapshifting in this novel, but I understand that she can't shift all willy-nilly like some paranormal creatures. It was also interesting to see her neice growing up and possibly coming into her powers. Learning the truth about why her sister hates Mab was unexpected. Although Juliet came out of hiding, she was still out of commission for most of the novel. I really hope she has a larger part in the next novel because I miss her sense of humor and odd mannerisms. Kane's part was definitely not what I expected considering he was stuck in the wrong form, and definitely posed a number of problems for Vicky. I was also very glad to see Tina quit acting like quite as much of a diva as she did in book two. Her zombie buddies actually helped Vicky out when she really needed it.

Cover: 4.5 Stars
It's great to finally see Vicky's face, and the progression of the cover model turning to the read over the three novels is a nice touch. On the Deadtown cover, Vicky is facing completely away from the reader as she looks out over the city. On the Hellforged cover, Vicky has turned towards the reader a bit, but not enough to get a good look. On this cover, Vicky is facing the reader and she's still holding her flaming sword. I also really enjoyed the deep blues of the cover and how well the flaming sword stoof out against it. And don't get me started on the grim reaper-like image floating in the sky. I totally didn't notice it at first. Then one day while I was in the middle of the novel, I noticed him and it creeped me out a bit. I kinda wanted to warn the cover model to watch her back, because he's totally sneaking up on her. This series has definitely been blessed with fantastic cover from the cover gods.

Overall: 4.5 Stars

Disclosure: I received a copy of this novel for review from Ace/Roc.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Author Interview: Kristen Painter

Today I'd like to welcome Kristen Painter, author of the House of Comarré series from Orbit. The second book in the series, Flesh and Blood just released this past Tuesday (October 25th) and I can't wait to read it after enjoying book one so much. You can see my review of Blood Rights here.

Sara: How would you describe the House of Comarré series, for readers who haven’t heard of it before?

Kristen: I always tell people it’s like Underworld meets Memoirs of a Geisha. If you haven’t seen either of those movies, think vampires that don’t sparkle with blood slaves and a bunch of other creatures.

Sara: How would you describe each of your main characters in three words?

Kristen: Mal –- dark, dangerous, tortured
Chrysabelle –- scared, learning, vulnerable

Sara: Do you have a favorite character to write? Is there a character that’s a bit harder than the rest to write?

Kristen: Chrysabelle is my hardest character to write because she’s the most unlike me. She’s trying to find her place in the world, struggling to come to terms with all the changes in her life. A lot of things are brand new for her and she has a lot of baggage to either deal with or leave behind.

Sara: What sets your series apart from the rest of the Urban Fantasy genre?

Kristen: I’m not sure I’m the right one to answer that question as I’ve purposefully tried not be influenced by the work of other authors while creating this series, which basically means I haven’t read much in the UF genre for awhile. It’s tough because there are so many good books out there!

Sara: How many more novels set in Chrysabelle’s world can we look forward to?

Kristen: There will be five in total in the House of Comarré series. I’m working on book five, Last Blood, right now.

Sara: If Chrysabelle could work together with any Urban Fantasy hero or heroine, who would you want her to work with?

Kristen: I think my hero, Mal, would have something to say about this. As in, like hell that’s going to happen. Therefore I feel it’s in my best interest not to answer this question since I need him to cooperate with me a little while longer.

Sara: Tell us a little about your writing process. Are you a plotter or a pantser?

Kristen: I’m mostly a pantser. I tend to know my beginnings, some things that happen in the middle and have a general sense of the end. Whatever else happens is just the fun of writing. Without those little discoveries, I’d probably get bored and read all day.

Sara: Do you have any other projects in the works? Are there any genres you’d like to branch out to in the future?

Kristen: The only project I’m working on at the moment is book five in the series, Last Blood. As for other genres, I’d love to get into writing comics or graphic novels.

Sara: What are your influences both in and out of Urban Fantasy?

Kristen: Too many to name! Everything from movies to art to comics to games. I just love the strange and interesting.

Sara: What are you currently reading?

Kristen: The ARC of Shadow Ops: Control Point by Myke Cole. I don’t usually read military fantasy, but I forced Myke to promise to send me an ARC at Comic Con –- which he did –- so I’m happily reading it!

Thanks again for stopping by, Kristen! And for readers who want to learn more about Kristen or the series, there is a chat tonight at 9pm. I've heard there will be books given away at this chat, so you should definitely check it out. Here are the details:

WHAT: Chat with Kristen Painter
WHEN: Thursday, October 27th at 9pm ET
WHERE: TKA Chatroom
HOW: Enter any combination of username and password to enter

Title: Flesh and Blood
Author: Kristen Painter
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Release Date: 10/25/11
With the ring of sorrows still missing, and the covenant between othernaturals and mortals broken, Chrysabelle and Malkolm's problems are just beginning. Chrysabelle still owes Malkolm for his help, but fulfilling that debt means returning to Corvinestri, the hidden vampire city neither of them is welcome in.

The discovery that Chrysabelle has a brother could mean reneging on her promise to Malkolm, something that might make him angry enough to loose the beast living inside him. And fulfilling her vow could prove devastating for Chrysabelle -- especially when you throw in power hungry witches, dead fringe vampires, and the Kubai Mata.

And don't forget, Bad Blood comes out next month! I know I can't wait!

Title: Bad Blood
Author: Kristen Painter
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Release Date: 12/22/11
Samhain approaches, bringing with it the final melding of the mortal and othernatural worlds. No one knows just how much power the night holds...

Violent murders occur in Paradise City as counterfeit comarré are systematically hunted. The police and the Kubai Mata have more than enough trouble to keep themselves occupied. As war erupts at home, Malkolm and Chrysabelle head to New Orleans to recover the Ring of Sorrows. Chrysabelle is forced to make a life and death decision and will realize that her relationship to Malkolm may have fatal consequences.

The clock is ticking...

Saturday, October 22, 2011

In My Mailbox (105)

Thanks to Kristi at The Story Siren for hosting In My Mailbox every week.

This week was a very ecclectic mix in regards to how they arrived. I was completely confused the other day to find two identical envelopes from St. Martin's Press in the mailbox. The only difference between the two was a different font used for the address. This difference was only noticed because both envelopes had an ARC of Tempest. I had won a Goodreads giveaway recently, and it looks like a whoopsie. I wonder if any (or all 200) winners received two copies. Anyway, it works out pretty well because I'm going to give one copy to my brother's girlfriend for Christmas since she reads a lot of YA also. I would love to run a giveaway, but I just can't afford it right now. I was also very excited to win a signed copy of Hereafter, especially since the other half of the giveaway includes an ARC of Arise once the author receives them. Last Sunday was mine and Christen's fifth anniversary, so of course we got each other books (and I also got her a mug she'd been eyeing at Starbucks). I think that's enough rambling for now. And just a warning, my birthday is on Wednesday, so the next IMM is probably gonna be ginormous.

Tempest by Julie Cross ARC [Buy now]
Thanks to Goodreads and St. Martin's Press!
Hereafter by Tara Hudson [Buy now]
Thanks to Tara!

Dark Hunt by Naomi Clark (e-copy)
Thanks to QueeredFiction Press!

Gift (from Christen):
Spider's Revenge by Jennifer Estep [Buy now]
Crux by Moira Rogers [Buy now]

Gift (from Sara):
Unwelcome by Michael Griffo [Buy now]

Used (Sara):
Midnight Awakening by Lara Adrian [Buy now]
Spellcast by Barbara Ashford [Buy now]
Always a Vampire by Nancy Haddock [Buy now]

Used (Christen):
The Kitchen Witch by Annette Blair [Buy now]
Atlantis Unleashed by Alyssa Day [Buy now]

Library (Sara):
It Happened One Bite by Lydia Dare [Buy now]
Clockwork & Corsets by anthology [Buy now]

Library (Christen):
Blameless by Gail Carriger [Buy now]

Friday, October 21, 2011

Review: Witch Eyes by Scott Tracey

Title: Witch Eyes
Author: Scott Tracey
Genre: Paranormal Young Adult
Release Date: 09/08/11
Reviewed by: Sara
But the Book:
buy the book from The Book Depository, free delivery
A boy who can see the world's secrets and unravel spells with just a glance.

Braden's witch eyes give him an enormous power. A mere look causes a kaleidoscopic explosion of emotions, memories, darkness, and magic. But this rare gift is also his biggest curse.

Compelled to learn about his shadowed past and the family he never knew, Braden is drawn to the city of Belle Dam, where he is soon caught between two feuding witch dynasties. Sworn rivals Catherine Lansing and Jason Thorpe will use anything -- lies, manipulation, illusion, and even murder -- to seize control of Braden's powers. To stop an ancient evil from destroying the town, Braden must master his gift, even through the shocking discovery that Jason is his father. While his feelings for an enigmatic boy named Trey grow deeper, Braden realizes a terrible truth: Trey is Catherine Lansing's son... and Braden may be destined to kill him.

Plot: 3.5 Stars
There were so many reasons I wanted to read this novel. The main character of the novel is gay, instead of a smaller background character. It's a young adult novel that focuses on a male main character instead of a female. Plus, the magic and specifically Braden's witch eyes really drew me in. There are so many ways you can twist magic and wizards/witches to be your own, and the author definitely did that. I really enjoyed Belle Dam as the setting. It was a very creepy place that centered around a fued between Catherine Lansing and Jason Thorpe. There were a number of details about the fued that were glossed over that would've probably helped me understand things a bit more as the reader, and I hope more of these details will come out in future novels as Braden learns more about his witch eyes.

Pace: 4.5 Stars
This novel flew by as Braden ran around Belle Dam trying to learn anything he can about his witch eyes. Although there were a couple points in which Braden was in a rush, whether to get away from something or to find something else before it was too late, the novel didn't feel rushed. And the calmer scenes, like hanging out with other student at school or falling asleep after a migraine, didn't slow the book down. It felt like Belle Dam was sending Braden in circles as he tried to learn more about his abilities, and it was fun to follow him on his journey.

Characters: 4 Stars
My favorite part of this whole novel was that Braden was gay, he knew he was gay, and he wasn't ashamed of it. It was who he was, and it did not affect the majority of the story. I really liked that he had already figured everything out, it wasn't a big deal, and that this novel was not his coming out. I thought it was a bit too coincidental that Trey, the boy Braden had a crush on, just happened to also be gay. But as they got to know each other, and things weren't always perfect, the coincidental feeling went away. Trey's sister was also a very interesting character, although I wish her part could've been a bit bigger. Although everyone in town knew about the Catherine Lansing and Jason Thorpe rivalry, I didn't feel like I was as up to speed as the rest of the characters, so I hope more information about them and their rivalry comes out in the next novel.

Cover: 4 Stars
The eyes of the cover model really grab your attention, which makes sense due to both the title of the novel, and Braden's ability. The lightning type detail on one of the eyes gives a hint as to the powers Braden possesses, but still leaves you wondering exactly how his witch eyes work. Although floating face covers don't always work for me, I can't think of any other way to focus on the eyes. I also like that the nose and lips kind of fall away into the forest so that there is nothing to draw your attention to a different part of the cover model. The forest and the mansion below the cover model's face are creepy in all of the right ways. The colors are a bit somber, but fit the feel of Belle Dam quite well.

Overall: 4 Stars

Disclosure: I borrowed this novel from the local library.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Guest Blog: Naomi Clark

Today I'd like to welcome back Naomi Clark, the author of the Urban Wolf series from QueeredFiction Press. Last February, I had the chance to review the first novel in the series, Silver Kiss, and really enjoyed it. You can read my review here. To celebrate the release of the next novel in the series, Dark Hunt, Naomi is here today to answer the question "Why werewolves?"

A question I'm asked a lot as a writer is "why werewolves?" I've managed to sneak them into almost everything I write, including my university dissertation, and my collection of werewolf books is bordering on the ridiculous. So I thought it might be fun to try to answer that question and trace back the origins of my werewolf obsession in five steps:

Tamora Pierce. As a teenager I read and fell in love with Tamora Pierce's Immortals Quartet, about a girl who could speak to animals. The second book, Wolf Speaker, sees the heroine, Daine, living with a pack of wolves and as far as thirteen-year-old me was concerned, this was the best thing ever. I wanted to be Daine. I wanted to run with those wolves and play with those cubs. It was a source of great disappointment to me that the family cocker spaniel just wasn't interested.

Nature documentaries. We watched a lot of nature documentaries in my household, and my favourites were always about wolves and foxes. They're beautiful animals and I loved the social bonds and family ties they have. It made it very easy to anthropomorphize them for the fantasy stories I was already writing.

Little Red Riding Hood. I love fairy tales, but the one I always loved best was this one. Now, of course here the wolf is a bad guy, but that didn't make him any less fascinating to me. If anything, it made him more interesting. Am I the only one who always feels a bit sad when the huntsman kills the wolf at the end?

Angela Carter. I didn't discover Angela Carter's beautifully twisted fairy tales until I was at university, but they had a big impact on me – especially her two stories The Company of Wolves and Wolf-Alice. The Company of Wolves is a dark, fascinating reworking of Little Red Riding Hood and Wolf-Alice is about a feral child and the attempts to civilise her. It's a theme I love – the clash of wilderness and civilisation, and the werewolf encapsulates that perfectly.

WereBears. Hear me out. This isn't the most obvious connection. But you remember Care Bears, right? Well, WereBears were the anti-Care Bears? They were stuffed toys that you could flip from cute little happy bears into fanged, clawed scary bears! I had three or four growing up, and I'm pretty sure they're responsible for my love of shapeshifters. There was something very appealing about turning those cuddly little bears into fierce little monsters!

Title: Dark Hunt
Author: Naomi Clark
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Release Date: 10/17/11
Ayla Hammond is taking on Paris.

Hoping for a romantic getaway in the City of Lights with her girlfriend, Shannon, she finds a city under the dark thrall of Le Monstre.

Getting caught up in mystery and murder was the last thing Ayla and Shannon expected to find in the City of Love, but as the body count grows and tension rises between Parisian werewolves and humans they find themselves stalked by an unknown terror.

What is Le Monstre and why does it make Ayla's wolf want to turn tail and run? Can it be stopped before they become its next victims?

Contest Time:

We're giving away plenty of swag in the DARK HUNT blog tour ( There are daily ebook giveaways and hampers of goodies up for grabs at the grand finale of the tour including ebooks, limited DARK HUNT t-shirts, personal horoscopes and tarot readings by Naomi Clark, as well as postcards from Ayla, Shannon, Vince, Joel and Glory (urban wolf series characters). Leave a comment here (ask me a question; tell me about your fondest childhood memories/influences; your paranormal passions; or just say hello) with your email address to be entered. Enter at each point along the tour for more entries and more chances to win.


Naomi Clark lives in Cambridge and is a mild-mannered office worker by day, but a slightly crazed writer by night. She has a perfectly healthy obsession with giant sea creatures and a preference for vodka-based cocktails. When she's not writing, Naomi is probably either reading or watching 80s cartoon shows, and sometimes she manages to do all three at once. You can follow Naomi at Twitter (!/naomi_jay); Facebook ( or on her Blog (

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Giveaway Winner: Slayers by C.J. Hill

There was a total of 9 participants in the Slayers by C.J. Hill Giveaway. Using, I randomized the list of entries, and then random selected the winners. The winners are...

Barbara E and Robin K!

Congratulations! Please respond to the e-mail I sent with your mailing information within 72 hours.

Didn't win? You can pick up a copy from The Book Depository and have it shipped for free! Just click here. And don't forget to check out C.J. Hill's guest blog, if you haven't already.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

In My Mailbox (104)

Thanks to Kristi at The Story Siren for hosting In My Mailbox every week.

A few weeks ago I finally got the courage to make my first review request, and it worked out so awesome because I got a copy of Trance yesterday! My happy dance freaked out my mom a little, and the cats a lot. We also got funny looks at the library after walking up to check out with over 10 books. It was like they've never seen anyone who wants to read so much. Who knew. I guess everyone around here rents DVDs... We wouldn't have grabbed so many except Christen doesn't like to read my mass markets because I'm "too OCD" about my books (ie, she's afraid she'll crease the spines), so the books with ** next to them are ones that I already owned but we rented for Christen.

Trance by Kelly Meding ARC [Buy now]
Thanks to Pocket Books!

Enthralled: Paranormal Diversions anthology [Buy now]

Library (Sara):
iDrakula by Bekka Black [Buy now]
Drink, Slay, Love by Sarah Beth Durst [Buy now]
Switched by Amanda Hocking [Buy now]
Awaken Me Darkly by Gena Showalter [Buy now]

Library (Christen):
Death's Daughter by Amber Benson ** [Buy now]
Changeless by Gail Carriger ** [Buy now]
Heartless by Gail Carriger ** [Buy now]
Spider's Bite by Jennifer Estep ** [Buy now]
Stormwalker by Allyson James ** [Buy now]
Earl of Darkness by Alix Rickloff [Buy now]
Lord of Shadows by Alix Rickloff [Buy now]

Guest Blog: C.J. Hill

Today, I'd like to welcome C.J. Hill to Sara's Urban Fantasy Blog. C.J. Hill is the pseudonym for a popular young adult author who makes her fantasy debut with Slayers.

Most story ideas don’t come to me whole and complete but are cobbled together from several incidents and thoughts. Slayers is that way. The first incident happened when I was fifth grade and had just moved to Silver Springs, Maryland. All the adults there were quite excited because this was the year that the cicadas would emerge from the ground after remaining dormant and hidden for 17 years. The next door neighbor happily explained to me that this was the cicadas’ way of avoiding predators. Since they only emerged every 17 years, predators couldn’t depend on them as a food source.

A brilliant adaptation, I might add, for an insect that isn’t smart enough to avoid accidentally flying into your hair.

I remember finding a lot of hollow cicada skins that summer, because cicada’s also shed their skin. Ahh, there’s nothing nicer to find hanging from your bedroom windowsill than a creepy, hollow bug skin.

But anyway, the point to all of this was that as a child I immediately picked up on what the adults seemed to have missed in the cicadas’ amazing return from the underworld. If bugs could (sort of) hibernate for nearly two decades in order to give themselves a natural advantage, why couldn’t other species do it too? Maybe there were animals with such long life cycles we just hadn’t caught them emerging yet.

I grew up on Godzilla movies and so had a strong and deep rooted fear that dinosaurs might one day show up and start smacking buildings around and eating screaming Japanese people -- or worse yet: eat me.

No one knew what had caused the extinction of the dinosaurs and I was surprised that no one had come up with my theory. They weren’t really gone. They were just hibernating. Waiting until there were lots of yummy fifth grade girls around to chomp on. And there were probably some eggs buried under my house!!

The nice thing about childhood fears is that you can use them later in your novels. Nothing is ever wasted when you’re a writer.

The next piece that added to the Slayers plot was my own clumsiness. I will sometimes wake up in the morning and notice bruises or scratches and I have no idea how or when I got them. My husband is understandably amazed by this phenomenon. He’ll say things like, “How can you not realize it when you hurt yourself? Were you with your body all day yesterday?”

Apparently not. Writers are like that sometimes.

I got tired of my husband’s comments so I started telling him, “While you sleep at night, I secretly go out and fight dragons.”

And then because I have a writer’s brain I wondered what it would be like to fight dragons. Viola, the beginning of a plot. When I researched dragons, I found another interesting fact. Just about every ancient culture had a dragon mythology. Most people are familiar with European and Chinese dragons, but Japanese and Koreans had them too. The Aztecs had Quetzalcoatl the flying feathered serpent, the Native Americans had Thunderbirds -- birds so big that when they flapped their wings, it sounded like thunder. The Bible has dragon references in both the New and Old Testaments. Even the Hawaiians have a dragon mythology. When the dragon goddess, Kihawahine, needed help retrieving her runaway human husband, she called on all the dragons from the Islands to fly over and help her.

I bet you never knew dragons provided that service, did you? They fly, breathe fire, and provide marriage counseling. Can a creature get cooler than that? All of this got me thinking even more about the subject. What if they had really existed? Who could have killed them? What powers would they knights have needed to fight them? And what if some people wanted to save the dragons instead of killing them? Where would they have taken them to protect them?

So that’s how Slayers came about. It was a really fun book to write. I hope readers have just as much fun reading it.

Thanks again to C.J. Hill for stopping by. And don't forget to enter for a chance to win a copy of Slayers! Click here to enter the giveaway. Ends tonight.

Also, check out the book trailer for Slayers!

Friday, October 14, 2011

Review: Fateful by Claudia Gray

Title: Fateful (ARC)
Author: Claudia Gray
Genre: Paranormal Young Adult
Release Date: 09/13/11
Reviewed by: Sara
But the Book:
buy the book from The Book Depository, free delivery
Eighteen-year-old maid Tess Davies is determined to escape the wealthy, troubled family she serves. It’s 1912, and Tess has been trapped in the employ of the Lisles for years, amid painful memories and twisted secrets. But now the Lisle family is headed to America, with Tess in tow. Once the ship they’re sailing on -- the RMS Titanic -- reaches its destination, Tess plans to strike out and create a new life for herself.

Her single-minded focus shatters when she meets Alec, a handsome first-class passenger who captivates her instantly. But Alec has secrets of his own. He’s in a hurry to leave Europe, and whispers aboard the ship say it’s because of the tragic end of his last affair with the French actress who died so gruesomely and so mysteriously...

Soon Tess will learn just how dark Alec’s past truly is. The danger they face is no ordinary enemy: werewolves exist and are stalking him -- and now her, too. Her growing love for Alec will put Tess in mortal peril, and fate will do the same before their journey on the Titanic is over.

In Fateful, New York Times bestselling author Claudia Gray delivers paranormal adventure, dark suspense, and alluring romance set against the opulent backdrop of the Titanic’s first -- and last -- voyage.

Plot: 4 Stars
From the moment I heard the phrase "werewolves on the Titanic" I knew I had to read this novel. Werewolves are my favorite paranormal creature, and I was very interested to see how the author fit them into everything we know about the Titanic and its tragedy. The amount of details would've been tedious in any other novel, but it was definitely needed to help shape this huge ship in your imagination. You can really tell that the author did her research, and it led to a great story. It was also refreshing to read a historical novel that I really enjoyed. This was definitely the best blend of historical and paranormal I have ever read.

Pace: 3.5 Stars
The pace of this novel felt a little slow at some points, but I believe that is due to a large plot point not being a surprise due to the author's choice of setting. Although the day to day life of the characters kept me engaged and wondering what would happen next, there was a part of my brain that was waiting for the ship to hit the iceberg and start sinking. Tess's job and actions seemed a bit redundant at times, although the amount of research the author put into the novel came through and definitely made the characters come to life. For all of the waiting involved as the story unfolded, the events after the iceberg really took me by surprise. I knew that the Titanic was going to hit the iceberg, but I hadn't really thought about what would happen to the characters after the crisis, so the ending of this novel had a few twists I really enjoyed.

Characters: 4 Stars
Tess was a lovely character with big dreams. She was both very mature for her age, and a bit naive at times. She dealt with the Lisles and they're attitudes quite well, and I was very glad that the Lisle's daughter, Irene, was kind to her. I feel like her character wouldn't have been believable if everyone in the family treated her like dirt. Alec was a very troubled young man who was trying to keep a very big secret while aboard the Titanic. He was also very strong in his refusal to join the brotherhood of werewolves due to their cruelty. Although Alec and Tess shouldn't have had the chance to socialize, unforseen circumstances brought them together and I really enjoyed watching their relationship grow.

Cover: 4 Stars
The simplicity of this cover is what draws the eye. I'm so glad they only included Tess, and that she is facing away from the reader. The cover could've easily been too busy or corny if too many characters were included, or worse, an image of the Titanic. My favorite detail is the cover model standing in water up to her knees. Although the cover isn't depicting a particular scene from the novel, it has a sense of despair and hopelessness that really fits given what we already know about the Titanic. The use of only blues also adds to that mood without being too overwhelming. Normally, I don't like really embellished fonts for titles, but the wave details details in this particular font hit the mark.

Overall: 4 Stars

Disclosure: I received an ARC of this novel from Anna @ Anna's Book Blog through the Random Acts of Kindness program started by the Book Soulmates.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Giveaway Winner: Spider's Revenge by Jennifer Estep

There was a total of 16 participants in the Spider's Revenge by Jennifer Estep Giveaway. Using, I randomized the list of entries, and then random selected the winner. The winner is...


Congratulations! Please respond to the e-mail I sent with your mailing information within 72 hours.

Didn't win? Haven't started the series yet? You can pick up a copy from The Book Depository and have it shipped for free! [Spider's Revenge] Or, if you're new to the series, you can start with book one. [Spider's Bite]

Saturday, October 8, 2011

In My Mailbox (103)

Thanks to Kristi at The Story Siren for hosting In My Mailbox every week.

Carrier of the Mark by Leigh Fallon [Buy now]

Sins of the Angels by Linda Poitevin ARC [Buy now]
Thanks to Dear Author and Ace!
The Space Between by Brenna Yovanoff *signed dust jacket*
Thanks to Brenna!

Friday, October 7, 2011

Blogoversary Giveaway Winner!

There was a total of 17 participants in the 2 Year Blogoversary Giveaway. The prize includes Mercy Thompson: Homecoming by Patricia Briggs, Personal Demons & Demon Inside by Stacia Kane, and Falling, Fly & In Dreams Begin by Skyler White, and a handful of bookmarks from Jennifer Estep. Using, I randomized the list of entries, and then random selected the winner. The winner is...

Bethany C.!

Congratulations! Please respond to the e-mail I sent with your mailing information within 72 hours.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Giveaway: Slayers by C.J. Hill

Courtesy of AuthorsOnTheWeb, I have two (2) copies of Slayers by C.J. Hill to giveaway.

Title: Slayers
Author: C.J. Hill
Genre: Paranormal Young Adult
Release Date: 09/27/11
Dragons exist. They’re ferocious. And they’re smart: Before they were killed off by slayer-knights, they rendered a select group of eggs dormant, so their offspring would survive. Only a handful of people know about this, let alone believe it –- these “Slayers” are descended from the original knights, and are now a diverse group of teens that includes Tori, a smart but spoiled senator’s daughter who didn’t sign up to save the world.

The dragon eggs have fallen into the wrong hands. The Slayers must work together to stop the eggs from hatching. They will fight; they will fall in love. But will they survive?

Giveaway Rules:
Answer the following question: Would you want a pet dragon?

1. Must include a valid e-mail address.
2. Open to US and Canada only.
3. Giveaway ends Saturday October 15th.
4. Winners will be chosen via

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Month in Review: September

September was a very slow month for me. It seemed like every book I read took forever to read, and not because the books themselves were slow. It was more because my brain wasn't working as quickly as usual. I only had one DNF this month, and it wasn't even a true DNF. It's not that I didn't want to continue and finish the novel, it was just due back to the library and I didn't want to anger the library gods. Other than that, all of the books I read this month were 4+ stars. Pretty good books this month. I just wish there could've been more. Hopefully my slump won't continue on into October. I also promise to catch up on reviews. They suffered even more than my reading this past month.

September: 6

Damned by Nancy Holder & Debbie Viguie 4.5 Stars
Blood Bound by Rachel Vincent 4.5 Stars
Fateful by Claudia Gray 4 Stars review coming soon
Sweetly by Jackson Pearce DNF
Witch Eyes by Scott Tracey 4 Stars review coming soon
Bloodstone by Nancy Holzner 4.5 Stars review coming soon

So what did everyone else read in September?

Review: Blood Bound by Rachel Vincent

Title: Blood Bound
Author: Rachel Vincent
Series: Unbound #1
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Release Date: 08/23/11
Reviewed by: Sara
But the Book:
buy the book from The Book Depository, free delivery
By blood, by word, by magic...

Most can't touch the power. But Liv Warren is special -- a paranormal tracker who follows the scent of blood.

Liv makes her own rules, and the most important one is trust no one.

But when her friend's daughter goes missing, Liv has no choice but to find the girl. Thanks to a childhood oath, Liv can't rest until the child is home safe. But that means trusting Cam Caballero, the former lover forbidden to her.

Bound by oath and lost in desire for a man she cannot have, Liv is racing to save the child from a dark criminal underworld where secrets, lies, trauma and danger lurk around every corner... every touch... every kiss.

And more blood will be spilled before it's over...

Plot: 5 Stars
The talents that the author introduces in this novel are very interesting. Trackers can find anyone if they have their name or their blood. Binders can bind a person to a contract, sometimes without their knowledge. Travellers can move through the shadows, kind of like teleportation. If there is a shadow big enough, a traveller can enter the room. Being in the proximity of a jammer makes it impossible to be tracked. Others can see into the future or tell if a person is lying. All of these talents comes together to create a complex world with new rules. Promises cannot be broken, if made with the wrong people, unless you want to live with crippling pain. Anyh blood spilled must be destroyed. Complete names are never shared, even between parents. Rooms must stay lit at all times so that there are no unexpected visitors. Throw a couple of mob-like bosses into the mix, and you've got some of the best world-building I've read all year.

Pace: 4 Stars
This was a long book. It took a bit for me to finish it, but not because it was slow. It was just a bit longer than the average novel. Liv and Cam are on a wild goose-chase across both sides of the city. Each have their own bindings to deal with, which complicates some of their actions and decisions. I also like how the author alluded to their past, without giving everything away too quickly. I really enjoyed the multiple points of view. Getting to read from both Liv and Cam's point of view gave the story more depth, and allowed the reader to learn more about both characters.

Characters: 4.5 Stars
Liv was a very no-nonsense, kick-ass heroine. She could definitley take care of herself. Although some of the choices she made weren't in her best interest, she often made them to save her friends from a worse fate. It was very interesting to learn about how Liv and her friends accidently bound themselves to help each other whenever asked. It was especially interesting to see how what seems like a good idea, slowly turns into the dissolution of their friendship. She was also very headstrong, especially when backed against the wall. Cam is in my top five list of awesome heroes because he was very real. Yes, he had tracking powers. Yes, Live found him gorgeous. But he didn't seem too good to be true like many heroes. Instead, he came across as very real and genuine.

Cover: 4.5 Stars
I like the soft purple color of the cover. It works very well with the other elements. My favorite part is the placement of the cover models. I like how the covers models of Liv and Cam are standing so close to each other. It almost looks like they're starting to blend into one person. I'm a tiny bit confused by the trees in the background though, considering most of the novel takes place in the city. The setting is definitely a bit more urban than the trees on the cover lead you to believe. The way the letters of the title are linked is reminiscent of the marks given to employees of the mob-like bosses that run the city, and are also very eye-catching with the light around them.

Overall: 4.5 Stars

Disclosure: I bought this novel for my own reading pleasure.

Review: The Restorer by Amanda Stevens

Title: The Restorer
Author: Amanda Stevens
Series: The Graveyeard Queen #1
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Release Date: 04/19/11
Reviewed by: Christen
But the Book:
buy the book from The Book Depository, free delivery
My name is Amelia Gray. I'm a cemetery restorer who sees ghosts. In order to protect myself from the parasitic nature of the dead, I've always held fast to the rules passed down from my father. But now a haunted police detective has entered my world and everything is changing, including the rules that have always kept me safe.

It started with the discovery of a young woman's brutalized body in an old Charleston graveyard I've been hired to restore. The clues to the killer -- and to his other victims -- lie in the headstone symbolism that only I can interpret. Devlin needs my help, but his ghosts shadow his every move, feeding off his warmth, sustaining their presence with his energy. To warn him would be to invite them into my life. I've vowed to keep my distance, but the pull of his magnetism grows ever stronger even as the symbols lead me closer to the killer and to the gossamer veil that separates this world from the next.

Plot: 4.5 Stars
I really don't think this book qualifies as a Paranormal Romance as labelled on the spine, but damn it was good! One of the first things I noticed while reading this book was how somber and lovely it was. I thought it was fitting considering the majority of the book takes place in a cemetery. Amelia Gray has the unfortunate ability to see ghosts, and these aren't your average Casper the Friendly Ghosts. These are creepy, soul-sucking entities. I can honestly say that this was one of the few books, including Peeps by Scott Westerfeld, that have scared me. I had to make sure not to read it too close to bedtime. The reader is carried along as Amelia pieces together the past of her love interest, Devlin, as well as one twisted serial killer who takes a personal interest in her.

Pace: 3 Stars
As good as this book was, it was a bit of a slower read for me. I think that was due to the lack of additional characters. Also, other than going to the graveyard and the library, there really weren't that many events or settings. There were quite a few flashbacks also slowed the pace down for me.

Characters: 3 Stars
If I could personify a graveyard, it would be Amelia Gray. I found it kind of hard to relate to Amelia. She was very passive and dreary. Definitely not how I want my heroine. That being said, she felt like a real person and not just a figment of the author's imagination. I didn't enjoy her tendancy to pine after the love interest, Devlin, who can only be described as severely emotionally damaged. Too damaged, in my opinion, to ever have another normal relationship.

Cover: 4 Stars
I found this cover very intriguing and mysterious, as well as slightly creepy, which fit the feel of the novel very well. The black and blue-green color scheme is reminiscent of the materials found in a cemetery. The two images, the crying angel on top and the inverted tree on the bottom, seem a bit disjointed. The ivy above the title looks a bit too computer generated against the other two images.

Overall: 3.5 Stars

Disclosure: I borrowed this novel from the local library.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

In My Mailbox (102)

Thanks to Kristi at The Story Siren for hosting In My Mailbox every week.

I wouldn't have purchased any books this week if there weren't two book signings this weekend. But you can't go to a book signing without purchasing any books.

Slayers by C.J. Hill [Buy now]
Thanks to Authors on the Web!

The Storm that is Sterling by Lisa Renee Jones ARC [Buy now]
Thanks to Lisa and Goodreads!

Alterant by Sherrilyn Kenyon & Dianna Love [Buy now]
Blood Rights by Kristen Painter [Buy now]

Weekend of Book Signings

This weekend was a great weekend. I went to two book signings. On Friday, Sherrilyn Kenyon & Dianna Love were in the Orlando area to promote Alterant, which came out this past Tuesday. And today, Kristen Painter was out near the beach to promote Blood Rights, which also came out this past Tuesday. (I really enjoyed it!)

I didn't include a picture of my signed copy of Blood Trinity because the authors signed on different pages, which would make it difficult to photograph.

The Sherrilyn Kenyon & Dianna Love signing was packed. We showed up a tiny bit late because dinner ran longer than planned. They did about 45 minutes of Q&A, and tossed t-shirts to those asking questions. There were a lot about Kenyon's tv and movie deals. It was fun to hear them talk about their books. The line for the sign was epic, and I was near the end. The authors took the time to chat and take pictures with everyone, although I forgot my camera. I was surprised there wasn't a limit on how many books you could bring to get signed since I've heard of some authors and bookstores setting limits. I only brought Blood Trinity and then purchased Alterant. I started reading Blood Trinity in line, and although it's a bit too early in the story to judge, I'm enjoying it so far.

I love the message she signed! In case you can't read it, it says Suck it up!

The Kristen Painter signing included three other local authors from different genres. Kristen recognized me from my blog picture as I was walking up. You have no idea how giddy that made me. I had to force myself not to do my crazy-happy-seal-clap. We chatted for a little bit, not all of it book related. There were definitely some pictures of cats shared. Lol. Although we haven't made definitive plans yet, Kristen will probably be dropping by the blog in the future. And I found out that I have another doppleganger. Kristen introduced me to a friend who swears she saw me at another signing. (I believe it was author Roxanne St. Claire, another local author... I apologize, but I'm bad with names when I'm nervous...) That's the third time I've heard of a possible doppleganger of mine. And I remembered my camera! All in all, it was a great afternoon! (Although my mom does not understand driving for an hour to meet an author for 20 minutes... She'll never understand my craziness when it comes to books and stuff...)

Orbit sent Kristen with a tall banner with her cover on it to sit behind her. It was definitely eye catching, although we stood in front of it.